Sea anchors

Sea Anchors and drogues

Sea Anchors and drogues in this article we test a Jordan Series drogue and a ParaAnchor.

Toby Hodges tries out a ParaAnchor sea anchor and a Jordan Series Drogue on a heavy weather sail training weekend in the English Channel

Drogues and sea anchors are designed to slow a boat or allow it to hold station in extreme weather conditions. They can prevent a possible capsize, oll or broach by keeping the bow or stern facing the weather. Debates about the pros and cons are rife among cruisers.

Sea anchors

In Skip Novak’s Storm Sailing Series he reveals that he isn’t in favour of streaming warps, let alone using a drogue or sea anchor. Yet there are numerous testimonials from long-distance sailors who place their faith in these devices.

Intrigued to see how practical this equipment is to use, I joined Rubicon 3, a sail training and exploration company, during a heavy weather sail training weekend. I was particularly keen to see how easy it is to deploy and retrieve a drogue or sea anchor, and compare their benefits.

We sailed from Portsmouth aboard the 60ft Hummingbird, an expedition yacht built for the original Clipper Race in 1996. We needed to sail 15nm offshore into the English Channel to reach a depth of 20m to set the sea anchor, which has a diameter of 26ft, and find enough sea room to retrieve the 110m drogue. Once these contraptions are deployed, the yacht’s ability to manoeuvre is limited.

60ft Hummingbird expedition yacht

Bruce Jacobs, together with Rachael Sprot, founded Rubicon 3 to offer a unique crossover of adventure sailing and sail training. They had requested we muster early in the morning so we could check and load the equipment. They ran through the theories of using drag devices and how we would deploy and recover them.

“The main thing you have to look for when in heavy weather is breaking seas,” said Jacobs. “The boat …read more